MOSCOW (Reuters) - New sanctions on Russian energy projects proposed by the U.S. Senate are aimed at boosting liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the United States to Europe, an official from Russian gas giant Gazprom was quoted as saying on Thursday.
U.S. senators approved new sanctions against Russia on Wednesday over alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, targeting certain Russian energy projects.
“As far as the implementation of the sanctions is concerned, they don’t conceal that this is aimed at ensuring American LNG to Europe,” Interfax quoted Gazprom Deputy Chief Executive Officer Alexander Medvedev as saying.
The United States is eyeing new markets for its LNG exports, including Europe. Gazprom so far has dismissed the potential impact from the U.S. proposal on its business in Europe, where it accounts for a third of gas supplies, saying that high transportation costs make U.S. LNG too expensive.
The U.S. Senate said it was the policy of the United States to continue to oppose Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, saying it would have a detrimental impact on the European Union’s energy security, gas market development in Central and Eastern Europe and energy reforms in Ukraine.
Gazprom and its European partners are pushing ahead with the plans to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream undersea gas pipeline to Europe from Russia as Moscow seeks to diversify its energy supplies and bypass Ukraine.
Medvedev also said he hoped that U.S. President Donald Trump will not approve the new sanctions.
“Let’s hope that, first of all, the draft law has not been passed yet; without the president’s signature it cannot become law,” he was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Germany and Austria on Thursday also censured the U.S. Senate for approving the new sanctions on Russia, saying they expose European companies involved in Russian energy projects to fines for breaching U.S. law.
Medvedev said that Gazprom has already received more than 1 billion euros ($1.11 billion) from its partners for Nord Stream 2 financing.
In April Uniper, Wintershall, Shell, OMV and Engie agreed to each loan 10 percent of the cost of the venture, or up to 950 million euros each.
Gazprom will shoulder 50 percent of the cost of the 55 billion cubic meter pipeline, which is due to start operating in 2019.
Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Maria Kiselyova and David Goodman